Why is it important?

All over Ontario, we are losing young people to suicide. This is happening in big cities, small towns, rural, remote and reserve communities, and among youth of all ethnic and socioeconomic backgrounds. In Ontario, 13.4%  of students - or one in 8 - had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year and 3.5 % reported a suicide attempt in the past year.1

Youth suicide is an important public health issue that needs to be addressed effectively. We need to work together to make change stick. All together, all the time.


Suicide facts and figures

  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Canadian youth.2;3
  • Nearly three-quarters of hospital admissions for attempted suicide are for people between the ages of 15 and 44 years.2
  • Suicide rates among First Nations, Inuit and Métis youth are five to six times higher than the rest of the population. Suicide rates for Inuit youth are among the highest in the world, at 11 times the national average.4
  • Suicide kills about three young people per week in Ontario and 10 per week across the country.5
  • Suicide deaths reflect only a small fraction of suicide attempts.6 It is estimated that for every completed suicide, there are as many as 20 attempts.7
  • One in eight Ontario students (grades 7 – 12) report having seriously considered suicide in the past year, while three percent (about 33, 300 young people!) report a suicide attempt in the same time period.1
  • Suicide is uncommon among children and young teens, but it happens. Rates increase through adolescence and continue to rise until the early 20s.8
  • Young women are more likely to both contemplate and attempt suicide, while young men are more likely to die by suicide.9 However, suicide patterns seem to be changing. Studies suggest the rates among females are increasing, while the rates among males are decreasing.10
  • More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness.11;12 Half of all adult mental illnesses emerged before the age of 14 years, while 75 percent appear before the age of 24 years.13
  • 1. a. b.  Boak, A., Hamilton, H.A., Adlaf, E.M., Beitchman, J.H., Wolfe, D., & Mann, R.E. (2014). The mental health and well-being of Ontario students, 1991-2013: OSDUHS highlights (CAMH Research Document Series No. 39). Toronto, ON: Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.
  • 2. a. b. Ontario Association for Suicide Prevention. (2013). Suicide statistics. Retrieved from: http://ospn.ca/index.php/suicide-prevention/suicide-statistics
  • 3. Pan, S. Y., Desmeules, M., & Morrison, H., Semenciw, R., Ugnat, A. M., Thompson, W., & Mao, Y. (2007). Adolescent injury deaths and hospitalization in Canada: Magnitude and temporal trends (1979–2003). Journal of Adolescent Health, 41, 84-92.
  • 4. Health Canada. (2003). Acting on what we know: Preventing suicide in First Nations youth. A report of the suicide prevention advisory group. Ottawa, ON: Health Canada. 
  • 5. Children’s Mental Health Ontario. (n.d). A CMHO position statement: Reducing child and youth suicide. Retrieved from: https://www.cmho.org/documents/Res_Reducing_Child_and_Youth_Suicide.pdf
  • 6. Navaneelan, T. (2012). Suicide rates: An overview. Statistics Canada. Retrieved from: https://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-624-x/2012001/article/11696-eng.pdf
  • 7. Cutcliffe, J. R. (2003). Research endeavours into suicide: a need to shift the emphasis. British Journal of Nursing, 12, 92-9.
  • 8. Anderson, R. N. (2002). Deaths: leading causes for 2000. National Vital Statistics Reports, 50, 1-86.
  • 9. Grunbaum, J. A., Kann, L., Kinchen, S. A., Williams, B., Ross, J. G, Lowry, R., & Kolbe, L. (2002). Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States, 2001. Journal of School Health, 72, 1-64.
  • 10. Skinner, R., & McFaull, S. (2012). Suicide among children and adolescents in Canada: Trends and sex differences, 1980-2008. Canadian Medical Association Journal, 12, 1029-1034.
  • 11. Gould, M. S., Greenberg, T., Velting, D. M., & Shaffer, D. (2006). Youth suicide: A review. Prevention Researcher, 13, 3-7.
  • 12. Shaffer, D., Gould, M. S., Fisher, P., Trautman, P., Moreau, D., Kleinman, M. & Flory. M. (1996). Psychiatric diagnosis in child and adolescent suicide. Archives of General Psychiatry, 53, 339-348.
  • 13. Kessler, R. C., Berglund, P., Demler, O., Jin, R., Merikangas, K. R., & Walters, E. E. (2005). Lifetime prevalence and age-of-onset distributions of DSM-IV disorders in the national comorbidity survey replication. Archives of General Psychiatry, 62, 593-602.